Laslo Djere advanced to his second ATP Tour championship match on Saturday at the Forte Village Sardegna Open.
The 25-year-old was leading Lorenzo Musetti 2-6, 6-2, 4-1 when the #NextGenATP Italian was forced to retire with a right elbow injury. Last year’s Rio Open presented by Claro champion will meet Marco Cecchinato in the final on Sunday. The 28-year-old charged through to the championship match with a 6-1, 6-0 win against lucky loser Danilo Petrovic.
Djere will be seeking his first victory against Cecchinato when he meets the Italian on Sunday. In the pair’s only previous ATP Head2Head encounter, Cecchinato claimed a straight-sets win en route to his second of three ATP Tour titles at the 2018 Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag.
Musetti made a fast start to his first ATP Tour semi-final, ripping a cross-court forehand return winner to break serve in the opening game. The Italian showed great court coverage throughout the first set, forcing Djere to increase his aggression, which extracted multiple errors.
“I knew that he was playing really well, had a lot of confidence and had some great results in the past few weeks, but I didn’t expect the high level that he played in the first set,” said Djere. “It surprised me a bit and I didn’t have the answer.”
Djere responded well in the second set, racing out to a 4-0 lead. The Serbian dropped just two points behind his first serve in the second set (11/13) and dictated baseline play with powerful groundstrokes to force a decider.
“I managed to stay focussed and fought back in the second set, which I am really happy about,” said Djere. “My level was higher in the second set, [as was] my intensity. I changed tactics a little bit and I was more focussed on my serve.”[WATCH LIVE 3]
Serving at 1-2 in the third set, Musetti pulled out of his service motion as he began to feel pain in his right elbow. Djere rushed Musetti into errors to break and held serve for a 4-1 lead, before the Italian took a medical timeout. After dropping the opening point of his service game upon the resumption of play, Musetti walked to the net to touch racquets with Djere, ending the match.
Musetti was attempting to become the youngest Italian in the Open Era to reach an ATP Tour final. The 18-year-old entered last month’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia with no Top 100 wins at No. 249 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Musetti now owns seven Top 100 victories, an ATP Challenger Tour trophy (Forli) and his first tour-level semi-final. Musetti rose to a career-high No. 138 on 28 September.
“There was one month of tournaments at ATP level with a lot of Top 100 players,” said Musetti. “I think I did an amazing job and now I will take a rest and see what is happening with the elbow… I am going to rest a bit because I am a little bit tired after playing a lot of matches in a row.”